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Nefs d’Or, Nefs d’Argent Between Space and Power

Andrea Missagia    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    

Feliciano Tosetto    Sophia University Institute, Italy    



The so-called nefs were an important ‘presence’ in the European courts starting from the Late Middle Ages. They were precious miniature ships, shown during banquets held in the halls of the nobility. In addition to delighting the sight of diners thanks to their ornamental richness, they were used as containers of spices, drinks, or luxury silverware. The preciousness of the vessel and of its content were just some of the elements that determined the function of ostentation of power through the nefs. Taking into consideration sources and examples ranging from the fourteenth century to the early sixteenth century, the purpose of this contribution is to investigate both the spatial relationships in the practices of use of the object and those intrinsic to the object itself. The main trajectories of analysis refer to three spatial relationships: that of container and content, that of long-distance travel embedded in the object, and the geography of power in noble banqueting rituals. These spatial relationships reflect power relationships that will be investigated on a case-by-case basis in the course of our study.

21 Dicembre 2022
02 Novembre 2022

Keywords: Ship modelsNefsRitualHistory of artLate Middle AgesConsumptionPowerConspicuousEarly Modern Age

Copyright: © 2022 Andrea Missagia, Feliciano Tosetto. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.